The Velociraptor Phase

For those of you with a puppy, considering a puppy, or had a puppy no doubt you have come across a meme that looks something like this. 

It may even be breed specific like this one for the Weimaraner…

Or this one for the Poodle…


And if you think it only applies to large breeds here is one for the Gentleman’s dog …the Boston Terrier…

Turns out this meme is used with just about every breed.  The months when the velociraptor comes out and the duration of its wrath may vary with the breed or type of dog.  A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for instance, may be very mild while a Belgian Malinois is just plain terrifying if you are not expecting it.

The velociraptor is a fun way to describe the not-so-fun parts of puppyhood which are the teeth and chewing. It’s almost a cruel joke of nature to create something that is absolutely adorable yet armed with the sharpest teeth on the planet.

So, what is this Velociraptor Phase and why do puppies and adolescent dogs go through it?  In short… they are learning. The curious mind of a puppy aggressively seeks to learn as much as they can while developing mentally at light speed. Evolution dictates that a puppy’s survival depends on it.

When we consider a young canid in the wild, anything and everything is available to chew on. Sticks, feathers, stones, dirt, animal skins, other puppies, and of course mom and dad’s ears and tails, are all up for grabs.  A dog’s main source of learning is through smell and when something is crunched in the mouth it releases even more flavor and scent. All of this intense learning occurs outside and the availability of these experiences is virtually endless.  New scents, tastes, and textures are everywhere to tease out the curious nature of a young pup’s mind.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln

This story has been replayed for hundreds of thousands of years in the wild, however, the concept of dogs living within four walls, a roof, and most importantly locked doors, might as well have happened just yesterday on the evolutionary scale of things.  While many dogs are quite happy to live indoors with us, they have to become conditioned to the concept, while at the same time being sure they are given ample opportunity to feed their voracious appetite to learn and explore.

Since we do not have the vast abundance of nature in our homes, all of our possessions inside are susceptible to a velocipuppy’s energy.  The problem is, unlike nature which heals over chew marks and embraces destruction and decay as part of a harmonic balance, our homes and the possessions therein are hoped to be preserved for as long as possible.  And while WE may know that, a puppy’s DNA does not understand and frankly, doesn’t care. Puppy energy is going to be expressed whether they are inside or outside. Nothing can stop it and nor should you try because the energy will simply redirect to something else like your arms, legs, and hands. The answer is found in the exploration of new and novel places.

When a puppy is outside and gets bored with a stick, it will go to the leaf, then the insect, then the blade of grass, then another puppy, then eat some dirt, then another stick, then a bone. Each interaction with these objects are not very long, because they are quickly distracted by the next new thing. Comparatively, the inside of our home can only offer a few things to explore in this way. Given that this energy must be expressed completely, it starts to become what we see as destructive.  Outside, chewing on a stick is not destructive, but that same energy applied to our couch is. 

A multi-billion dollar industry has sprouted from this dilemma in the form of dog toys and chews. However, no toy can hold a candle to being outside, exploring new scents, and having experiences in new territory.

The best part…these experiences are free, they just require our time.

Photo by Jamie Street

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